This past fall, the Pope came to Philly and caused total chaos. The city was planned to essentially shut down and make it impossible for its residents to get around, even to work. So naturally, my boyfriend and I planned to haul ass outta PA and go on a little road trip around the Northeast. We basically planned the trip around Salem, MA. I’ve had this weird fascination with Salem ever since learning about the witch trials as a young gal in school.
Rich and I have done road trips in the past, one of them being over two months long. Each time we wing it. Which isn’t always the easiest way to travel. Driving into a town/city without a sure place to stay can be a little nerve wracking. Luckily, there was a cheap apartment on AirBnb we found. I get a little anxious every time we stay in an AirBnB, too many horror movies I suppose. But once we got to the apartment there was a Phish book on the coffee table and a vintage drum throne in the living room, so we knew it would be gravy.
After some rest and a shower, we decided to see what Salem was all about. Around sunset, we visited the Old Burying Point. It was so eerie; the tombstones are old and worn with vague details. The trees were haunting and the dusk sky only added to the atmosphere. This town definitely profits off their gloomy past. Each store had witches in the window display, tarot readings, and promoting witch tours around the city.
After giving ourselves a little tour of the town, we searched for a good place to eat and had some live music. After asking a few locals for somewhere we might like, we ended up at Opus. The sushi was amazing and they had a live band/second bar to hang in down in the basement. If you’re in Salem I totally recommend the place for food, drinks, and fun.
The band playing at Opus was just finishing up after we finished dinner so we headed across the street to Koto where there was a heavy 80s metal band playing. If there was a band to see while in Salem, we figured it had to be a metal band. The guys were wearing face paint, had fake blood and pig heads as stage props, and did synchronized dance moves. I still laugh about it to this day.
After not getting murdered in our AirBnb,we woke up the next day and wanted to sight see some more before hitting the road. We visited the notorious Salem Witch House. It was dark, eerie and was a self-guided tour which I preferred. One of the old Salem judges, Jonathon Corwin used to live there. It is the last standing structure with direct ties to the trials. It had less to do with the actual witches then it did the judges family and the era itself, however still very neat.
We walked back downtown after the tour and found the most lovely little shop, Haus Witch. It was bright and inviting, full of candles, essential oils, and the cutest home décor. I was lucky enough to speak with the owner, Erica about her shop's history.
Nicole: How did you come about opening up your store? Was it something you’ve always wanted to do?
Erica: I opened my store mostly because I wanted to be my own boss. I also realized I had a hidden talent for curation and knew having my own boutique would be a way to make money from that talent. It was something I always wanted to do, but never really considered it a realistic option. Then in the last few years I saw so many awesome independent shop owners doing it and suddenly it seemed very possible..
N: What has been one of your favorite moments in your career so far?
E: Great question! Right after we opened the store we threw a Blue Moon Party (on a night with a full blue moon of course) to kick off our Events and Meditations. it was our first public event and when all of these amazing people showed up to eat cookies and meditate I knew we were really on to something. Now we have this amazing community of people that come to all the events and just help to make the energy of the store really amazing and collaborative.
N: What is your favorite part of living/working in Salem, MA?
E: I think our first October after opening the store was pretty magical. Salem attracts a ton of tourists in October and so the store was always busy with people from all over the country. i was totally pinching myself all month that this thing I built was such a hit and we had so much fun. I love living here because its a small town with a very cool, independant vibe. Salem State University is here so it feels much more like a college town than a suburb and that gives it a really great energy.
N: What would you like to see Haus Witch do next?
E: We're collaborating with a bunch of local artists and makers to produce more of our own products which is really exciting. I love giving emerging artists the space and encouragement to make money from their art. Its empowering for everyone involved. I also want to do more to empower power people in general through our events and community.
N: As an aspiring storeowner, what key advice do you have for someone whose dream is to one day own his or her own shop?
E: Open yourself up to the community you're in. You'll be amazed at how crucial community support can be to the success of your business
Thanks for stopping by!